Cotswold Notes: Cotswold Morris General Instructions: Typical Format

Verse & Chorus Structure

An introduction (often a Foot Up) then alternating verses & chorus ending with a verse (often Rounds ending with All Up & Show). The same verse often occurs in different dances but not normally more than once in the same dance. The chorus is usually unique to one dance and the same (or the same with variations in ornamentation) through that dance.


Historically, traditions are groups of dances collected from the same region. For practical purposes, the dance from the same tradition typically have the same verses, structure & Basic step.

I have probably ascribed something that a specific to a dance to a whole tradition or vice versa where I haven't done many dances from a tradition.

Longways Set

The commonest arrangement of dancers. Usually of 6 dancers but can be of any even number. The positions are arranged in two rows [sides] and are numbered:

                      P2 P4 P6
               top               bottom
                      P1 P3 P5

‘Partners’ refers to the pairings of dancers with those the same distance from the top of the set on the opposite side. ‘Corners’ refers to the pairings of dances diagonally across the set (except for the middle 2 dancers who don’t have anyone diagonal to them and therefore couple up together for as corners the same as they do as partners).

The Top of a Set

The top a set is the end where position 1 is. It is usually the end nearest the musicians. If two longways sets are dancing then the sets can face and the musicians go between them.

Corner Dance

A six person dance done in a longways set position. The cornering part [a verse or chorus depending on the dance] is first done with D1 & D6 leading [the rest usually stay still though sometimes there is a part for the others]. It then immediately repeats identically with D2 & D5 then a third time with D3 & D4. [The second couple has the easiest time because the first have no-one to copy & the third have to get straight out of it into the next verse [which sometimes requires fudging].]


These are solo dances [though sometimes done by two or more dancers sharing the verses out between them]. Since sticking and floor patterns don't work well solo, the dances are mainly hanky dances showing off all the steps of a tradition and are done as accurately and with as high leaping as possible.

Because there is only one dancer compared to the normal mass of dancers, it is not as crowd-pleasing as the normal team dances and it makes the soloist appear very arrogant. Therefore many sides (including Lagabag Morris) do not bother performing Jigs as solos, only when adapted into team or audience-participation dances.

Despite the name, the music is not necessarily in jig time.


The music is normally specific to a dance and is normally based on repeats of just 2 phrases, one for the verses and one for the choruses. A single verse or chorus normally has its phrase played through once or twice except for the corner bits of some corner dances where each couple perform in turn to a whole phrase so the phrase is used thrice. Phrases are most often 8 bars long [or, to be pedantic, 4 bars played twice].

Bars are usually danced as if they have 4 counts. I.e. if you add up the number of hops, steps etc. in a bar counting ‘fast’ steps as 1 & ‘slow’ ones as 2 it will almost always total 4. However this does not mean that the music is written as with 4 beats per bar. Sometimes it has 6 beats. This very different for musicians but is actually not very different for dancers because it is still usually danced as 4 steps per bar but in a quick + slow + quick + slow timing that fits a step-hop sort of rhythm well instead of regular timing. For dances like that, I will refer to the timing as if it is in 4 beat bars for simplicity [and because I often don’t notice that in 6s and naturally count it as “One Twooo Three Foouur” instead of “One Two Three Four Five Six” which disgusts formal musicians!]. Moreover, some dance tunes that are otherwise written as 6 beat bars have slower sections where the rhythm becomes more uniform written as 4 beat bars. The few dances [e.g. Adderbury Shooting] that are actually danced in other rhythms will be explicitly stated.

There are lots of exceptions though. Mostly these are still obviously tunes of the above form but with additions like extra steps on the end of each figure [e.g. the clashing capers of Bledington Black Joke] or a change of the chorus phrase to fit a slower more spectacular version of the chorus at the end to the beginning of the dance [e.g. for the star jumps in Bucknell Queen’s Delight.]

[Cotswold Morris General Instructions] [Different Traditions] [Abbreviations]